Paracetamol linked to heart attacks
Paracetamol has been linked to increased heat attack risk.
A new study has looked at the effects of taking the painkiller daily over a long period of time and says it could be detrimental to health, with researchers concluding it ups the chance of dying unexpectedly by 63 per cent. It also ups the risk of a heart attack or stroke to 68 per cent and there is almost a 50 per cent higher chance of having a stomach ulcer or bleed.
Many of us will turn to the pills when in discomfort, with paracetamol easing everything from a headache to post-surgery pain.
Paracetamol is generally thought to be safer than other painkillers, such as ibuprofen, which has been linked to heart attacks and strokes, and aspirin, which can cause stomach bleeds.
However researchers from Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine concluded otherwise after looking at eight studies that involved 666,000 patients.
The patients examined had been taking paracetamol daily for up to 14 years, with the study citing the painkiller may be causing illness by preventing the action of a bodily enzyme called COX-2.
"Given its high usage and availability, a systematic review of paracetamol’s efficacy and tolerability in individual conditions is warranted," the study, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, outlined.
Patients who took the pills less often were also looked at.
Lead researcher Philip Conaghan points out that the risk is small for most patients. He also noted that those who do take paracetamol over long periods of time are likely to be suffering from a severe illness which may kill them early - therefore it is difficult to determine whether the drugs were causing the problem.
"I am a bit worried that paracetamol at high dose for long periods could be associated with side effects that we hadn’t previously associated," he added.
However, while paracetamol may increase heart attack risk, it's recently been found three cups of coffee a day could cut the chances of suffering one.
While the pros and cons of caffeine are often debated, research by the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, has found three to five cups of coffee a day can cut the risk of clogged arteries that lead to heart attacks.
The study was published by the journal Heart, and looked at a group of more than 25,000 Korean men and women with an average age of 41, who had no signs of heart disease. Their coffee consumption was then compared.
"Our study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that coffee consumption might be inversely associated with CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk.
"Further research is warranted to confirm our findings and establish the biological basis of coffee's potential preventive effects on coronary artery disease," the authors said.